Friday, March 18, 2011

76/365: Rainbow rocket

76/365: Rainbow rocket
76/365: Rainbow rocket, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.

March 17th

The Palace of Culture and Science. I also posted this on, a collaboration 365 with some Tolkien forum friends of mine. Below is a copy of what I wrote for that post:

The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland, and a controversial Warsaw landmark. It was built between 1952 and 1955, the materials and 3500-strong Soviet workforce provided as a kind gift by Joseph Stalin. In hindsight, we know the true meaning of such gestures- there are several similar skyscrapers in other Eastern countries which were under Soviet control. It's like a stamp of ownership; a brand, and hated by many since the blueprints. I've heard people call it very rude things indeed, I wouldn't dream of repeating them here.

It didn't help that in order to secure space for the construction, one of the most vibrant and quickly recovering parts of the city center was torn down anew (note: Warsaw was utterly destroyed toward the end of WW2, and that is not a hyperbole). Many surviving citizens claimed the appearance of the Palace disrupted the original flow of their city.

Today, there are still people who want the Palace destroyed. But it has been with us for so many years, and has been adapted for many useful purposes. A viewing terrace, a concert hall, a cinema, several museums, theatres, youth workshops, book fairs, the Palace has seen all of these, and though its design doesn't lend itself well to any of these events, tearing it down would be a logistic nightmare. And after fifty-six years, doesn't it deserve to be left alone?

At least we no longer call it the Palace of Joseph Stalin. His name was removed from the front entrance a long time ago.

Oh, and the rainbow hues? They are part of a new illumination system set up last Christmas. Since the Palace is in the very centre of the city, and the tallest building besides, it's often used as a canvas for art, announcements, and commemorating historical events.

More about the Palace on Wikipedia:,_Warsaw

and at the Official Site:

with some great archival photographs of the construction where you can see the ruins of other buildings in the background:


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